Economics and the Good Life

1st Edition

Bertrand de Jouvenel

Routledge
Published January 31, 1999
Reference - 317 Pages
ISBN 9780765804280 - CAT# Y349987

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Summary

Bertrand de Jouvenel (1903-1987) was known in the United States primarily as a political scientist. His best-known works--On Power, Sovereignty, and The Pure Theory of Politics--all made distinctive contributions to our understanding of the modern state, and to the creation of a political science capable of civilizing that state. His work in the field of economics is relatively unknown in the United States, but like many writers in the contemporary field of political economy, de Jouvenel is not interested in expanding the claims of economy at the expense of polity. On the contrary, his thinking is governed by the oldest and most fundamental of political concerns, the definition of the good life.The good life is not a product of the marketplace, but of deliberate and collective decision--that is, a task for thoughtful citizens and statesmen, and not simply the sum of millions of separate and amoral "consumer preferences." De Jouvenel is well known for his opposition to the distended state, but he was no anarchist. His eloquent warnings to keep the state in its proper sphere were accompanied by a richly sophisticated discussion of what the proper sphere is--an aspect of his work that comes through very clearly in this volume.Written between 1952 and 1980, the essays range from a discussion of technology to reflections on such fundamental economic concepts as "amenity" and "welfare." They include the deeply theoretical as well as the practical and the concrete. All are informed by de Jouvenel's insistence that a science which seeks to understand the production and distribution of "goods" must be concerned in the first place with the good itself. Economics and the Good Life is a companion volume to The Nature of Politics: Selected Essays of Bertrand de Jouvenel. Like the earlier volume, this collection is accompanied by an editor's introduction that places the essays in the wider context of de Jouvenel's work. This work is essential to the libraries of economists, political theorists, historians, and sociologists.

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